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Monday, December 16, 2019

Bora-Bora World War II Novel Bland, Forgettable

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Anne Calloway longs for something more exciting than marrying her wealthy, but dull fiancé and settling down to a boring, predictable life.  So, when Gerard ships off to fight in Europe, the 21-year-old decides to do her part for the war effort.  She and her best friend, Kitty Morgan, join the Army Nurse Corps.  Serving together in Bora-Bora, the two soon realize that nursing on a far-off island in the middle of a bloody war is nowhere near as glamorous as it sounded when they signed up.  Picnics and outings with the soldiers are bright spots in the women's lives, but even those have a way of leading to trouble ...

Although Anne vows not to let the Army boys turn her head, she's immediately drawn to Westry Green.  In spite of herself, she falls for the enigmatic soldier.  As they work together to fix up a small, abandoned bungalow the Tahitians claim is cursed, they build a secret relationship that Anne knows will endure beyond the war.  Then they witness a brutal crime.  Before Anne knows it, she's become more than an innocent bystander and Westry's been shipped out suddenly.  With no communication from the soldier she's come to adore, Anne has no idea what's happened to him.  Where is Westry now?  Why isn't he writing her?  And what will become of the love that blossomed between them in their secret little bungalow?

I've heard good things about Sarah Jio's books, so I decided to give The Bungalow a try.  What did I think?  Meh.  The plot's melodramatic, the prose is stilted, and the characters are nothing special.  I'm especially confused by Anne and Wesley's big romance.  Both are bland characters, with no real personality, so I spent the whole book wondering what they saw in each other.  Although they are supposed to have this great, timeless love, there's no real spark between them.  Their relationship feels like a silly little wartime fling.  The mystery element did pique my interest.  Otherwise, The Bungalow just didn't do much for me.  It's an okay read, but nothing that will entice me to read more from Jio.  Oh well.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, mild sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Well, I felt very differently about this one. (surprising, since we usually have the same tastes.) I said she writes beautifully and it was a joy to read. I read it a long time ago, and love Jio. I still remember the basic story...which says a lot, because I often forget even the basic premise of books I read. Sorry this wasn’t a good one for you.

  2. How sad. A book that's set on Bora Bora should be better than meh. I mean, it's Bora Bora! ;D

  3. I enjoyed a book by Sarah Jio (the one about a bookstore with a connection to Goodnight Moon - but the title is escaping me) but I don't think bringing characters to life is really her strong point. I think if the story really hooks you with the premise then you enjoy it but if it doesn't the characters aren't enough to keep it out of meh territory. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you and honestly I think I'll give it a pass too.


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